Every tourist who comes to Coorg, a hill town in the state of Karnataka, is told a visit to Bylakuppe, the second largest Tibetan settlement in India, is a must. When I was there over a long and wonderfully chilly weekend, I too was asked to do the same. But I didn’t think much of the idea. What would I even do in a sleepy town full of monks and monasteries? Yet, for lack of better options, I decided to drive down to the town. What I didn’t know at the time was that I would end up learning a precious lesson from this trip.
The 40-km drive from Virajpet to Bylakuppe was sunny and pleasant. As I entered Bylakuppe, I felt a palpable difference in the atmosphere. There were tourists everywhere–queuing up at the Tibetan restaurants and haggling in the shopping complexes–and yet, there was a peaceful energy that seemed to envelop the town. The sight of multi-coloured Tibetan flags and lines of maroon-clad monks made me feel like I had entered a whole other country.